Synesthesia in Children

June 26, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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It is proven that when someone loses one of their five senses, their other senses become slightly heightened. The brain reprograms and creates what is called supersenses. But, did you know that some people are born with the ability to experience multiple senses at once? This is called synesthesia, and it can be a blessing and a curse — especially in children who are already easily distracted. What do people who have synesthesia experience, and how do you know if your child has it?

Examples of Synesthesia

Someone without the condition may smell a pie and see the pie — which is technically two senses at once — but people with synesthesia may experience something entirely different. They will smell the pie and see it but also see light radiating from it. When they eat the pie, they may feel the geometries of the pie — from the circular cherries to the square piece of crust.

When they love someone, they can close their eyes, think of that person, and see colors circulating in their vision. The same can be said for what they hear. Famous musician, Lorde, uses her synesthesia to see the colors of notes that she plays in her songs. She uses these colors to write her songs.

In some cases, people with synesthesia will also assign voices to each sentence of a paragraph. And, as they read, the voice changes from sentence to sentence — each with its own identity as if it were several people on the street saying each line.

What causes synesthesia?

Only 1–4% of people in the world are born with or develop synesthesia at an early age. While there is still a lot to learn about the condition, it is believed to be passed through genetics. Researchers believe that people who have synesthesia have a higher level of interconnectedness between the parts of their brain that are tied to sensory stimuli. When your child is experiencing synesthesia, their primary visual cortex may be stimulated by the colors they see while their parietal lobe tells them what it tastes like. So, not only can they see a piece of the pie, but they can taste it without eating a slice.

Synesthesia Symptoms

There are multiple types of synesthesia depending on what the person with the condition experiences. But, generally, children with synesthesia may experience the following symptoms:

  • Involuntary perceptions that intertwine between senses — from tasting shapes to hearing colors and more
  • Sensory triggers that consistently and predictably cause interplay between senses — such as seeing red every time they see the letter A
  • The ability to describe their unusual perceptions to other people

In most cases, synesthesia is more common in women and those who are left-handed. Also, those who have the condition typically have a strong interest in visual arts and music — with Psychology Today identifying 20–25% of cases having careers within those industries.

Living with Synesthesia

There are no treatments for synesthesia, but most people with the condition enjoy seeing the world differently anyway. For children with the condition, the only downside is that it can be confusing or distracting when dealing with the different senses — resulting in overload. Children can also feel isolated and become bullied for their unique ability to experience things differently. The best thing you can do for your child is to talk through their condition and find communities of other synesthetes for them to connect with.

Seeking a mental health specialist can also help your child come to terms with their condition and learn to love their unique perspective of the world. You can also remind them that some of their favorite artists also have the condition, including:

  • Lorde
  • Kanye West
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Mary J. Blige

Contact Care Options for Kids For Pediatric Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you are considering pediatric home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.